The winning streak ended Monday night when James Holzhauer finally lost a game on Jeopardy! He'd won 32 straight and $2,462,616 in winnings, an earnings total that left him about $60,000 shy of the all-time record held by Ken Jennings. But most of us knew the outcome already, because a video was leaked on Sunday that showed how it ended. And whether you saw the video or not, websites across the internet pretty much told the story in their headlines. (Note to media: If you're going to start an article with a "spoiler alert" warning, don't put the actual spoiler in the headline).
The leak didn't seem to hurt the show's ratings. In fact, Jeopardy!'s ratings on Monday actually went up. But the producers are still pretty upset about the leak and they are promising to take "very, very, very appropriate action" against the guilty party. (I'd be pretty worried after the third time Executive Producer Harry Friedman said "very.") According to the story in the Hollywood Reporter, they believe they know who leaked the video, but can't say for sure.
Eventually, all champions lose their spot at the top. Ken Jennings finally lost on Jeopardy!, and now James Holzhauer lost on Jeopardy! Weird Al Yankovic lost on the original Jeopardy! with Art Fleming. (Not really, but the video is worth a look just to see how the old show's set looked).
For James Holzhauer, who came so close to all-time Jeopardy! champ Ken Jennings and then fell less than $60k short, it must have felt like winning a silver medal. Silver medalists are rarely as happy as bronze medalists, because they just missed out on being a champion. Bronze medalists made the podium, so it's a much more positive experience. But it was still a remarkable run, made more remarkable by the fact that it is such a rare thing. Holzhauer won his first game on April 4th. Just eleven days later, he became the 2nd all-time winner in the show's storied history. He stuck around for the rest of April, all of May, and was finally eliminated in early June.
Ken Jennings ultimately won a lot more games -- a whopping 74 of them. But Holzhauer's accomplishment is not likely to be repeated anytime soon. He has the 10 highest single day totals, and that's astounding! So James Holzhauer may have ultimately won the "silver," but it's still a significant accomplishment.
[Thumbnail credit: Jeopardy!]